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Government plans to introduce mandatory three-year tenancies have been poorly received by the National Landlords Association (NLA).
New plans have been introduced by the government to make tenancies of a minimum of three years mandatory with a six month break clause. The idea aims to give tenants more security. According to government figures, tenants usually stay in their homes for four years. However, 81 per cent of tenancy agreements are assured shorthold tenancies with a minimum fixed term of six or 12 months.
Whilst tenants and landlords are able to agree to longer terms, most do not, something the government argues leads to insecurity amongst tenants.
Secretary of State for Communities James Brokenshire MP explains: ‘It is deeply unfair when renters are forced to uproot their lives or find new schools for their children at short notice due to the terms of their rental contract. Being able to call your rental property your home is vital to putting down roots and building stronger communities.’
However, the National Landlords Association (NLA) argues that the new proposals are too rigid. Richard Lambert, the NLA’s chief executive, argued that when plans for a consultation on longer tenancies were announced last October the tone of the discussion’ was of ‘consultation and encouragement.’ As a result, he claims to now feel ‘misled’ as the new plans are not about making tenancy agreements flexible, as expected.
He stated that NLA research with tenants has found that around 40 per cent of tenants want longer tenancies, however an equal 40 per cent are happy with the current situation.
He says: ‘More than 50 per cent consistently say that they are happy with the tenancy length they were offered, and 20 per cent tell us that when they asked for a longer tenancy, they got it. We would accept that the flexibility of the current Assured Shorthold Tenancy isn’t used as effectively as it could be, and that we should be looking to find ways to ensure that tenants are offered the kind of tenancies they need at the time they need them.’
He continued: ‘That means thinking about how to modernise a model devised 30 years ago, to take account of the changes in the people who are renting and the way they live their lives. How will that be achieved by moving to a more rigid system, more reminiscent of the regulated model the current system replaced? It’s like urging someone to update their 1980s brick-style mobile phone, but instead of giving them a smartphone, offering them a Bakelite dial phone plugged into the wall.’